Cockpit voice recorder recovered at Red Lake crash site

Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board have now recoved the cockpit voice recorder from the wreckage of a Red Lake, Ont., plane crash and have spoken with two survivors.

Bearskin Airlines official says pilots 'were having issues with the left engine'

Wreckage from Sunday's flight is seen in the ditch alongside Highway 125 near Red Lake in northwestern Ontario. (Lindsay Briscoe/The Northern Sun News)

Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board have now recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the wreckage of a Bearskin Airlines plane that crashed on weekend near Red Lake, Ont., killing five of the seven people on board. 

TSB spokesman Peter Hildebrand confirmed the recovery today of the voice recorder.  The plane's flight data recorder was recovered earlier. Hildebrand said both recorders suffered some damage from the impact and the fire.

TSB spokesman Peter Hildebrand says the severity of the crash makes the work of investigators difficult. (Supplied)

He said the violence of the crash is making the investigators' work difficult.

"It hit the ground at considerable speed," he said. "It's broken up into a number of pieces … piled up on top of each other. There are trees all over that have fallen onto the wreckage. There was a severe fire."

Investigators have also interviewed the two people who survived the crash.

The head of Bearskin Airlines said the plane was probably having engine trouble before it went down.

"There was a report from one of the passengers that was on board that there was some engine problems," said Cliff Friesen, executive vice-president of Bearskin.

"[The pilots] also radioed in to the Red Lake station indicating that they were having issues.… It indicates that they were having some issues, and it sounds like they were having issues with the left engine." 

The twin-engine Metroliner crashed just after 6:30 p.m. local time Sunday on approach to the Red Lake airport. The remote community is not far from the Manitoba border and about 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay.

(Canadian Press)

"As far as we can tell, things were operating relatively normally until sometime during the descent," said Hildebrand. "Then the [crew] indicated some kind of emergency."

Ontario Provincial Police said the twin-engine turboprop plane burst into flames when it hit the ground. Of the two survivors, one pulled the other to safety.

The two pilots were among those killed. Ani Sawant was from Mississauga, Ont, but most recently lived in Winnipeg while working as a pilot for Bearskin Airlines.

Another pilot, 34-year-old Peter Traczuk of Winnipeg, was also killed.

The other three fatalities were passengers — a 53-year-old woman, a 53-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman, all from Red Lake.

The Transportation Safety Board tweeted a photo of the flight data recorder from the Bearskin Airlines plane crash in Red Lake. (TSB)

Friesen said the company is doing whatever it can to support the victims' families. TSB investigators are expected to be at the site most of the week.

The aircraft involved had been in two previous incidents, according to the TSB. The most serious happened in 1999 when the plane overshot a runway and collided with an antenna. That caused "substantial damage," according to TSB records.

But Hildebrand said that's not unusual.

"They get repaired and components that were damaged can be replaced quite often," he said. "It's not uncommon to see that."


  • An earlier version of this story identified Peter Traczuk of Winnipeg as the plane's co-pilot. CBC was not able to confirm his title, so we've used the generic term "pilot" instead.
    Nov 15, 2013 7:18 AM ET


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